'Hotel Rwanda' hero says he was kidnapped and blindfolded before arrest


FILE PHOTO: Paul Rusesabagina, portrayed as a hero in a Hollywood movie about Rwanda's 1994 genocide, is escorted in handcuffs from the courtroom in Kigali, Rwanda September 25, 2020. REUTERS/Clement Uwiringiyimana/File Photo

KIGALI (Reuters) - "Hotel Rwanda" hero Paul Rusesabagina, on trial on terrorism and other charges in the central African country, said on Friday he had been kidnapped from abroad before being detained and charged.

Rusesabagina, a political dissident who has lived in exile in Belgium and the United States, was arrested in August after returning to the country.

At the time it was not immediately clear whether he had returned voluntarily or had been coerced.

"I was kidnapped to come here," Rusesabagina said in court in the capital, Kigali, as he applied for bail.

"...They tied my legs and my arms and I was blindfolded."

Prosecutors denied he had been kidnapped and said due process had been followed.

"No one kidnapped Paul Rusesabagina...he was detained at a legally recognised place after being notified of charges against him," prosecutor Jean Cabin Habimana said.

The Oscar-nominated 2004 film "Hotel Rwanda" depicted Rusesabagina, played by Don Cheadle, using his connections as a hotel manager to protect ethnic Tutsis fleeing slaughter by Hutus in the country's 1994 genocide.

An estimated 800,000 people were killed.

Rusesabagina later acquired Belgian citizenship and became a U.S. resident.

He became a vocal critic of President Paul Kagame and once called for armed resistance to the government in a YouTube video.

In court, his lawyer, Gatera Gashabana, said Rusesabagina had been held incommunicado and his rights violated.

Rusesabagina has already been denied bail twice. [L8N2GT3U7]

The judge said he would deliver his ruling on the most recent application on Dec. 2.

(Reporting by Clement Uwiringiyimana; editing by Elias Biryabarema and Nick Macfie)

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